Congress has been gripped by inaction on gun violence for years, and with Democrats running the House and Republicans in charge of the Senate, that is unlikely to change soon.
Over the weekend, members of both parties retreated to their familiar stances. Republicans issued statements praising law enforcement and raising concerns about mental health issues, and Democrats called for the Senate to return to pass the House bills. Lawmakers in both parties have left Washington for their August recess and do not plan to return to the Capitol until September.
“This is a time that demands not words but actions,” Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of House Democratic leadership, said in a statement, in which he called not only for the Senate to return but the House as well, so that it could consider an assault weapons ban, which he introduced earlier this year.
Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, is still recovering from gunshot wounds he sustained in 2017 when a gunman opened fire during practice for a congressional baseball game. Mr. Scalise said the weekend shootings should be called “domestic terrorism,” but he also blamed the media, saying that “a media culture that encourages viewing people solely through hyperpartisan lenses,” can “often lead to violent consequences.”
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of a handful of Republican centrists in the Senate, already faced a tough re-election race should she choose to run again. On Sunday, she issued a statement saying, “We have united in the wake of tragedies in the past, and we can do so again to stop this violence.” She is one of only two Republicans left in the Senate who voted for a background check bill almost identical to the one passed this year by the House, and on Monday she wrote on Twitter that she had long supported “closing loopholes” in such checks.
But passage of such legislation in the Senate would take enormous political pressure — and probably Mr. Trump’s pushing. The bill, written by Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, fell to a filibuster in 2013. Since then eight of the Democrats who voted for the measure have been replaced by Republicans.
Some of the Democrats campaigning for the party’s nomination to run for president condemned Mr. Trump for not calling the El Paso attack a white supremacist act of domestic terrorism. Some Democrats blame the White House for what they suggested was a tolerance for white nationalist groups, something that was not common among Mr. Trump’s recent predecessors.